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Scuba Diving for All, (SDA), Registered Charity No 1094643, a group of volunteers based in Ripon have been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.
The charity was set up 17 years ago to provide tuition in scuba diving to people with special needs. The beneficiaries are often excluded from many activities by virtue of their disabilities or circumstances. Exclusion from these activities is harmful and also contributes to other negative effects on the lives of these people. For example lack of confidence and lack of circumstances in which to socialise with others.
The charity imaginatively addresses some of these problems by allowing people who would not otherwise have the chance to participate in an adventurous sport to do so.
Scuba diving develops social skills formally and informally through the small group tuition that is required. People taking part in the sport are dependant on each other, achieve greater confidence, independence and control over their lives.
Physically disabled people are able to achieve a greater level of freedom in water than is normally possible on land.
The speed of learning of those taking part is always very varied and the methods of tuition allow for this, ensuring that all can participate and learn at their own rate.
People with special needs are often marginalised by society, socially and economically. SDA is going some way to mitigating these effects and is making a significant difference to the quality of life of those involved by developing skills and attributes to enable them to take a fuller part in society.
There has been a dramatic improvement in the health of those take part and an increase in confidence and communication skills.
They also teach people without special needs to scuba dive and many continue to dive with us to help those with special needs.
Chris and his sister, Rachel, represented SDA at a Royal Garden Party at Buckingham Palace in May, along with other recipients of this year’s Award.
SDA is one of the few charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of nominations and awards has increased year on year since the awards were introduced in 2002, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them.
The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service aims to recognise outstanding work by volunteer groups to benefit their local communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Winners are announced each year on 2 June – the anniversary of the Queen’s Coronation. Award winners this year are wonderfully diverse. They include volunteers helping people overcome mental health problems through sport, volunteers using caravans as mobile cafe/information centres in geographically remote locations and another group mentoring children who have a parent in prison.
Representatives of SDA will receive the award from, Johanna Ropner Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for North Yorkshire later this summer.
SDA’s founders and leaders, Von & Archie Covell said:
We are delighted to receive this award and have the work our charity provides honored with the Queens Award for Voluntary Service
SDA is the only scuba diving organisation in the UK to provide such a unique opportunity to those with and without a special needs on a twice weekly basis and to be honored with the Queens Award for Voluntary Service is a tremendous acknowledgment of the service we provide within the community.
To all our volunteers – who give their time and expertise for free – a massive thanks and appreciation – without you SDA would not be able to give so many the unique opportunity to take part in a sport that enables them to break through the restrictions their disabilities impose on them.
To all our students – thank you for having the faith to believe in yourself, the courage to try something different and the belief in your instructors and in water buddies – Faith, Vision, Courage.
To all the members of the public that support us and our fund raising events thank you for helping to raise the funds to enable us to provide such a unique service.
Together we are making a difference.
No-one in SDA receives any material or financial reward, every penny raised goes directly to the charity to enable us to continue our vital work.